Comfort Ye My People


With an understanding ear
Attuned to listening
To hopes and fears
Unrealized, but real
As the God with whom she pleads
Seems to fold his arms
Refusing entry.
With a gentle touch
Surrogate of the presence;
Assurance that we’re not alone
As the clasp of a hand remains locked
In reluctant release
From a presence felt
In someone there.
With a sweet-pea posy
Whose petals fade and fall
As sap sours with ethylene
And the scent of life
Becomes the anticipated odour of death
While poppies flower
To relieve her pain.

But without the glass of barbiturates
Stirred up for death
At the time of her choosing
Aided by a profession
Now standing accused
Of torture for denying
The time for departure.
With a medical certificate
Drawn from a world-wide list
That will satisfy a registrar
With what, but never why
As he clutches the plastic bag
With the beloved’s remnants
And unanswered questions.
 With a stiff upper lip
 As pall-bearers place her on the catafalque
 Seeing the mourners' sadness
 And a family facing separation
 When he presses the black button
 Sending the departed underground
 As though forever.
With shared stories
Drawn out of history
Into active remembering of the past
That becomes today
And the shared blessing of being one
With those who mourn
In the hope of new beginnings.
August 2009

Reflections on Isaiah 40:1-2 in the wake of continuing calls for assisted suicide.


Red Poppy Flower - from Benjamin Pfeiffer   ©